Singapore — China's crude imports fell to a 27-month low of 9.096 million b/d or 38.47 million mt in December, but total imports over 2020 were up 7% year on year at 10.86 million b/d, General Administration of Customs data released Jan. 14 showed.
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The last time monthly imports were lower was in September 2018 at 9.092 million b/d, GAC data showed.
The 15.4% year-on-year fall in December crude imports was sharper than expected, with analysts pointing to a shortage of crude import quotas and destocking activity as the key reasons for the decline.
As a result, the country's year-on-year growth in crude oil imports over January-December narrowed to 7% from 9.2% over January-November.
The GAC releases data in metric tons, which S&P Global Platts converts to barrels using a 7.33 conversion factor.
On a metric tons basis, crude imports in 2020 rose 7.3% year on year to 542.39 million mt.
China's oil product exports, on the other hand, rebounded by 19.2% from November to 5.9 million mt in December, despite posting a 13.1% year-on-year fall.
This brought total oil product exports over 2020 to 61.83 million mt, down 7.5% year on year, as the pandemic weighed on overseas demand.
Meanwhile, China imported 2.18 million mt of oil products in December, up 6.2% from November, while its imports over January-December fell 7.2% on the year to 28.35 million mt.
The country's net oil product exports over 2020 fell 7.7% year on year to 33.48 million mt.
CHINA'S PRELIMINARY IMPORT, EXPORT DATA
(Unit: million mt)
Source: China's General Administration of Customs